Body Series with Elizabeth Johnston
Being able to remain both physically and mentally healthy is important when it comes to staying well-rounded and positive. Elizabeth inspires us to focus more on ourselves from the inside out. Read on to discover what it takes to keep grounded and encouraged during difficult times.
What made you decide to get into massage therapy?
I sort of fell into massage. When I was in college, I started working front desk at a spa here in Dallas. I enjoyed being in the spa industry. It’s always changing and exciting. So when I started working as an administrative assistant at an accounting firm after graduation, I was bored out of my mind. Many of my friends are massage therapists, and I realized I wanted to stay in the industry. Playing sports growing up, I knew how much I loved when we would work on each other and assist each other stretching. The next year, I started massage school and the rest is history.
How do you stay fit and healthy enough to perform the physical tasks that are constantly required of a massage therapist?
I spend as much time outside as I can. I love going on walks and doing yoga. I try to stay as mentally and physically active as possible. I personally love being outside because I feel the most mentally alert while I am outside. There is such a calming presence to being in the sunlight. As someone who suffers from General Anxiety Disorder, being outside and focusing on breathing during my yoga practice helps to keep me grounded when I am in the massage room assisting my clients.
It’s obvious that staying mentally healthy is of great value to you. But why do you believe good mental health is so important?
Mental health is just as important as physical health. When I am stressed and my anxiety starts getting out of control, I often get stomachaches, migraines, don’t sleep well, and generally lose my ability to focus. In college, I would get sick at the end of every semester from not sleeping enough and trying to keep up with my schoolwork. I got to the point where I was so mentally and physically depleted that my grades and health suffered. On a more scientific level, stress and anxiety trigger the Sympathetic Nervous System which puts our bodies into fight-or-flight mode, which keeps our bodies tense and ready to react. Our bodies are not meant to stay in that state for long periods of time. Massage helps to engage our Parasympathetic Nervous System, which acts as a balance to the Sympathetic Nervous System. It encourages our bodies to relax and rest and restore it to the state at which it should be.
How have you personally been able to stay mentally strong during the pandemic?
I have been able to stay strong by focusing on my other goals outside of work. I have spent a lot of time reading, especially historical fiction. I have also been focusing on my writing and exercising, as well as cooking and having socially distanced time with friends and family. I set myself up with a routine to try to help for me to not feel so overwhelmed. By giving myself small tasks to accomplish every day, it helped me to keep a rhythm and not focus so much on what I couldn’t control.
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